2021-02-21 22:00:00 | all the twists and turns you expect from a Jed Mercurio thriller


Story by: Anita Singh The Telegraph

James Nesbitt has described Bloodlands (BBC One) as “a classic Jed Mercurio thriller”, which is about right. You don’t know who to trust, none of the characters ever smile, and senior detectives spend their time looking broodily out of windows.

At various points you’ll lose track of what’s going on, and wonder if that’s deliberate or if it’s because you missed a vital plot point during those five seconds when your mind wandered to the stain on the ceiling and whether you really need to check the guttering.

Mercurio is the man who gave us Line of Duty, and he is executive producer on Bloodlands. The drama is written by Chris Brandon, but his script has been Mercurio-ed to within an inch of its life. Perhaps it began life as a serious meditation on the shadows cast by the Troubles, but what we got was a jolting thriller laced with clues laid for us to solve.

Brace yourself for several “Whoa, I did not expect that” moments to come. The Northern Irish setting could be replaced by anywhere else in the world and the plot would need only minor adjustments.

Nesbitt is world-weary detective Tom Brannick, whose wife was thought to be among four victims of an assassin in the months leading up to the Good Friday Agreement. The killer was nicknamed Goliath, after a crane at the Harland & Wolff shipbuilders in Belfast, and the suspicion was that he or she was within the police ranks.

Nesbitt’s superior, Jackie Twomey (Lorcan Cranitch), hoves into view and may as well have a neon sign above his head saying: “Suspect me! I’m behaving in a sinister manner!” Which surely means that it isn’t him. Then Nesbitt meets an attractive trauma consultant wearing Hollywood-grade eye make-up, and I think we are meant to suspect her, because why else is she here (if this were the Cold Feet incarnation of James Nesbitt she would simply be falling for his twinkly charm, but thankfully he’s in grown-up mode). 

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There were good set pieces, including a heart-thumping scene involving a bomb disposal expert. The dialogue was less impressive, with Brannick laying on the exposition for his partner (Charlene McKenna); their problem-solving was also done in leaps and bounds (blurred vision, ladies’ man, Viagra…). 

Director of photography Árni Filippusson is a veteran of Nordic crime dramas, and it shows – everything is washed in a cold, grey light. Apparently a local landowner refused the film-makers permission to use his land as a location because he didn’t want an influx of tourists, but unless you like particularly bleak holidays I don’t think you’ll be booking your ferry ticket.


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Source References: The Telegraph

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